Detroit schools integrate digital science resources

This summer, approximately 200 educators across Detroit Public Schools participated in an intensive professional development initiative, called the Summer Science Program, which helped teachers develop summer school units that integrate Discovery Education digital content into the curriculum for high school science classes. Participating teachers learned how to align digital resources to curriculum and how to integrate streaming content into new and existing lesson plans. This effort kicked-off with a two day “boot camp” to accelerate the learning, then included additional professional development that featured model lesson demonstrations.

“Academic rebirth is a cornerstone of Detroit Public School’s master facilities plan,” said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, DPS chief academic and accountability auditor. “The process of rebirth includes changing the way we engage students in learning. Students today are different. They inhabit a digital world. The partnership that created the Summer Science Program showed us that Discovery Education understands this and can provide the resources to both engage our students in learning and develop our human capital, so that we can evolve our curriculum and methods of instruction to meet the changing needs of 21st century learners.”

Based on the positive evaluation of the Summer Science Program, DPS is expanding its relationship with Discovery Education. Through this new agreement, Discovery Education is providing 6-12 grade science teachers district-wide access to dynamic digital content.

The core of the partnership includes digital content from Discovery Education streaming and Discovery Education Science. Aligned to Michigan academic standards and assessments, Discovery Education streaming is searchable by keyword, content area and grade level, while Discovery Education Science offers standards-based virtual labs, simulations, video clips and reading passages, and encourages student exploration and critical thinking.

In addition to providing digital content, Discovery Education’s professional development team is providing instruction to 6-12 grade science teachers to show them how to integrate the new digital content into district curriculum, and build new or adapt existing lesson plans to incorporate digital content. This professional development is jump-started with immersive sessions that will provide participants with the necessary technical skills to use the digital resources and corresponding technologies in their classroom instruction. In addition, these initial sessions show educators how to create a series of integrated lesson plans that include non-linear multimedia and standards-based multimedia presentations to facilitate engaging direct and differentiated instruction.

Follow-up professional development opportunities will support and mentor DPS educators as they continue to develop cross-curricular lessons that include digital content for use in large groups and differentiated instruction. Throughout the entire implementation, Discovery Education will provide consistent evaluation of the program, which will both shape the continued implementation of the program as well as the next steps for the district.

“At DPS, we ask ourselves each day ‘Is it good for the kids?’” said Sherry Ulery, DPS deputy chief of academic affairs. “After witnessing the growth of our teaching staff this summer and the positive impact our efforts to incorporate digital content into our curriculum has had on student engagement, I can say that this initial step towards a digital curriculum is good for the kids.”